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Launch of The Standard v3.0

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 am, February 15th, 2010 - 86 comments
Categories: The Standard - Tags:

You may have noticed that The Standard looks a little different from the last time you logged in. That’s because today we’re launching The Standard version 3.0, and with it a new legal entity to own the site called, inventively, The Standard Trust.

So, why the new site?

Put simply, we felt the site had begun to outgrow its format. It was ticking along fine and probably could have gone on as it was for some time, but we decided we’d hit a wall and needed something fresher to drive the project forward. Hence the Standard v3.0.

More compact front page. We have a tension between readers who enjoy seeing plenty of posts and those who don’t have the time to visit so often and end up missing posts that would have interested them but have dropped off the front page. Likewise, we have a number of writers who are sometimes all keen to write but no one likes to see their carefully written piece disappear miles down the screen within hours. We have moved from having only a few posts per day to having ten to fifteen posts a day. Having a front page with small excerpts from each post balances these factors. The posts don’t disappear down the page so quickly (you’ll be able to see the excerpts without as much scrolling) while still allowing plenty of posts to be published. We’ll also be able to make the top post sticky to give particularly substantive or newsworthy posts more time at the top.

Ads. We’ve been pissing a bit of money away, basically. We could be using that money to pay for the server, rather than out of Lynn’s wallet and the generous donations. We can also use it for enhancing The Standard and left activism. The point of ads is not to enrich ourselves. The money will be held by The Standard Trust and used to pay for the site and to advance the progressive left principles the site was founded on.

Wider contribution. The idea of this site has always been to be a focal point for a community, not just one person’s voice or one group of people’s voice. To facilitate more guest posts, we’re introducing a ‘contribute post‘ page, which you can get to by clicking on the friendly green button.

New faces. At the same time as encouraging more guest posts there will be the normal turnover of authors and we’ll be bringing on a few new authors who will be using their real names, and not just having their identities behind the pseudonyms being well known – like Lynn or Rochelle. However we will continue to protect the identities of those who choose to protect their pseudonyms against ill-informed speculation. The reasons for having a pseudonym policy are discussed in the About.

Cool stuff. We reckon the new look is awesome and there’s some cool new features. Francis has put in a hell of a lot of time and effort, we’ve been lucky to have someone with his skills be so generous. While working within the constraints of the WordPress engine he’s managed to draw on the look of some of the best news sites around. He’s been a pleasure to work with and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

Francis and Lynn have spent the last week or so getting everything synced up and running – it all seems pretty much good to go*. A huge amount of thanks from the rest of the authors (and, hopefully, from you) to both of them for all their work in creating The Standard v3.0.

* if you do see any initial wobbles please let us know so we can get them sorted. If you are having trouble reading the text, see the faqs.

The reason for this post being published under The Standard is due to the number of authors who have picked over the text. It is a composite view.

86 comments on “Launch of The Standard v3.0 ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    Spotted it a day or two ago and I’ve been using it non-stop since… I love it. Great work !!!

  2. Jenny 2

    Sounds great. Looking forward to the new format.

    All the best, on the launch of your new look. May the gods of IT look kindly on your efforts.

    J.

  3. Looks good.

    I am fine with the use of advertising. Lefties should not flog themselves to death in the interests of being philosophically pure.

    • I agree,

      In fact I’m working on a new blog with adds as well. It’s all nice and dandy to work 8 hours a day for free but in the end it’s not fair on the one who has been supporting me.

      Way to go Standardistas!!!

    • Stever 3.2

      Yes! I think it was Tony Benn (a gadget freak, apparently) who said “the devil should not have all the best toys”. So, use that advertising!

    • BLiP 3.3

      I haven’t seen an ad on the internet for over a year thanks to this for Firefox. But, hey, since its The Standard I’m prepared to give it a go and put my eyeballs on the line in the name of a good cause.

      While the techno-whizz kids are out an about, what’s this: “www.google-analytics.com/ga.js”. I’ve got it blocked but have been wondering what its for.

      [lprent: It is the site counter. Measures how many page views that we have and what posts we’re having looked at.

      The main reason for using it is because google analytics are generally very good at eliminating the bots from our counts. Most of the other ones I tried (including the internal ones) gave us ridiculously high counts for visitor visits and page views. This one is pretty close to my hand count through the logs.

      I’m sure that google have fun with the numbers, but then so do we. Has been on the site since well before the election. Haven’t had too many problems with it (it counted some new spambots for a month, and it is sometimes sluggish). Let it through, it is about as safe as any of these tools gets.

      You don’t have to let the ads run. They run in separate frames so that they don’t slow the site down. But they are pretty well behaved. ]

      • Marty G 3.3.1

        google analytics is our stats tool. It counts visitors, page views and stuff.

        it’s a lot of fun if you’re a numbers geek.

  4. TightyRighty 4

    good luck. nothing like progress is there? full credit to francis and lynn for the effort.

  5. Rex Widerstrom 5

    As the person statistically proven to be the most verbose (in terms of words-per-comment) I’m probably the most qualified to posit the question: when does a verbose comment become more appropriately submitted as a post? 😀

    • r0b 5.1

      Always a judgement call of course. My guess would be, when it starts a completely new topic, rather than contributing to an ongoing one.

      • Rex Widerstrom 5.1.1

        Ah, that’s what I thought you’d say. But then I’ve noticed on many an occasion where more than one regular Standardista has posted on the same topic, one after the other.

        Not that I’m complainin’, mind – the posts invariably offer different points of view, but then usually, so do some of the comments…

        I guess it’s a “how long is a piece of string” question, to some extent. I suppose time will tell. Perhaps if you reserved the right to take a contribution that substantially mirrors another contribution and post it as a comment? If ever I get round to writing something even more verbose and submitting it, I’d be quite happy with that.

        • lprent 5.1.1.1

          Yeah, but if you ever have a close look, you usually find that either the approach to the topic or the point of view is substantially different.

          Authors tend to have a peek and a read at what else is in the post queue when they’re starting to write a post. In fact some of the posts you’re referring to come because they’ve had a peek and are slightly incensed at obvious missing logic of the other author. Bloggers are of course level-headed people who have a strong rein on their emotions…… 😈

    • IrishBill 5.2

      When you post it to us using the contribute button and we decide we’ll put it up.

    • BLiP 5.3

      About time you did some posts.

  6. SHG 6

    Still using WP on the back end?

    I actually prefer the current look, but I like K2-based layouts in general.

    • lprent 6.1

      The problem with K2 is that it was great when there were only a few posts per day. But these days through most of the year we’re putting up a *lot* of posts. The number of posts is gradually increasing over time as more writers come on board.

      It is usually fine for me because I’m scanning comments frequently as I micro-break at work. But there are days when I get tired of the mouses scroll button when I’ve been away for a concentrated 4 hour block of coding.

      Also some of the posts are getting quite long as they examine some larger issues. The ‘more’ solution helps, but is a bit of pain because authors want to cut way down the post (and I’m one of the worst offenders). The front page will automatically trim to roughly the right size.

      The peak number of posts is about 17 in a day (I think) Imagine what the site gets like when we start hitting 25 or 30 which looks like happening this year……

      We’re victims of our own success.

      Besides I want to push the memory up at the server. When the view count goes up on the site, I’m nervously watching the available RAM drop like a stone (diskspace and CPU aren’t issues). I have it trimming connections to make sure the site is unlikely to fall over any more and that works almost all of the time. But pushing the RAM from 512kb to 1-2GB would help a lot more. That requires more money per month. K2 doesn’t give much space for ads.

  7. felix 7

    I’m not enjoying the serif font. Much harder to read than the old one.

    • lprent 7.1

      I’m finding it difficult on firefox in ubuntu as well. That configuration doesn’t seem to have much anti-aliasing. However I didn’t succeed in that discussion.

      However I have a solution for the recalcitrant of us. Browser client side CSS is pretty useful for overcoming such irritations. I’ve been adjusting the theme locally on firefox. I was planning on writing a ‘Hacking The Standard’ page with instructions (purely to make the trolls wet themselves).

      What browser are you using? You can try it out.

      • Bill Browne 7.1.1

        I’m using FF 3.6 – can you tell me how?

      • felix 7.1.2

        Firefox. I just set the local style to Arial and that seems to work.

        Bill, Toad:
        In Firefox you can determine your own styles to override those specified by the web page. You can write an entirely new stylesheet which is kept on your machine and applied to all pages you view.

        Simple stuff like fonts, sizes, colours etc you can set under tools > options > content > fonts and colours. Under fonts and colours click “advanced” and uncheck “allow pages to choose…”

        • mummybot 7.1.2.1

          There is an easier way to get font anti-aliasing in Windows XP:
          http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306527

          From Wikipedia:
          “ClearType was later introduced as an operating system feature in Windows XP, where it was kept turned off by default. In Windows Vista, ClearType is turned on by default. In Microsoft Office 2007, Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Live Messenger ClearType is turned on by default, even if it is not enabled throughout the operating system.”

          From what I understand, back in 2001 when XP was first released, Microsoft turned off the font smoothing feature by default because computer hardware couldn’t run it. From Vista onwards, Windows users got smooth smooth fonts.

  8. vto 8

    Sounds good. Will the new site have auto-moderation for looney left comments that make no sense? he he.

    • Ari 8.1

      About as likely as for wingnut comments that defy reality.

      I can tell you that I don’t fancy the idea of writing a program to automoderate comments, so I imagine there won’t be one in the near future for any site that does anything more than flag you based on keywords. 😛

  9. captcha : concerns

    can i switch the ads off ?…dial up you see 🙁

  10. toad 10

    Agree felix that it looks awful in Firefox. And I don’t think there is any place for serif fonts in websites – they facilitate reading lengthy hard copy documents, but hamper reading onscreen.

    Also, I don’t like an advertisement separating the two most recent (or stickied) post excerpts from the rest. Cool to have advertisements to help fund the site, but they should not separate the front page post summary content.

    Lynn, for the Luddites among us, what the hell is browser client side CSS, and how do we use it?

    Personally, I like sites to look good in

    • Ari 10.1

      Client-side CSS is formatting code that you apply to your browser to override website default (or server-side) formatting. So you could override the CSS for the Standard to put in a font that you find more readable.

    • Marty G 10.2

      we ummed and ahhed about serif vs sans. personally, I don’t find the reading difficulty changes, just the feel (sans light and bouncy, serif more authoritative) and it was on that basis, following the style of the NYT site that Francis was keen on serif. He’s the pro at web design, so we went with his suggestion.

  11. outofbed 11

    Doesn’t look to bad in Opera

  12. Daveo 12

    internet explorer looks swell

  13. felix 13

    I think I kinda prefer the simplicity of the old design but I can see what you’re doing with the more “newsy” feel and that it probably makes more sense to a lot of people. It should broaden the readership which is important from the perspective of reaching more people who aren’t that engaged politically but will still be voting next year.

    Anyways, usually everyone just pisses and moans about these things for a week or two and then everyone gets used to it and forgets it was ever any different.

  14. felix 14

    One more wee gripe and then I’ll shut up: I think having the commenters name and identicon at opposite sides was waaaay tidier and waaaay easier for following the thread.

    Having both on the same side makes a mockery of the indentation for replies.

    • the sprout 14.1

      agreed

      • Marty G 14.1.1

        funny, I like seeing identicon beside the name. I’m all like ‘there’s felix, that ineffable black space, I bet he’s saying something cutting’

        Indenting is less than on the current one but that’ll mean not having those long but crazily narrow comments in long arguments.

  15. lprent 15

    Sorry – been playing. If you do need to do it, then css you need is something like this (feel free to modify (carefully)).

    — snip below —


    body.single div.blk-entry
    {
    font-family: Arial, "Lucida Grande", Verdana, "Lucida Sans Unicode", Helvetica, sans-serif !important;
    font-size: 16pt;
    }


    body.single div.comment p
    {
    font-family: Arial, "Lucida Grande", Verdana, "Lucida Sans Unicode", Helvetica, sans-serif !important;
    font-size: 16pt;
    }


    body.home div.blk-feature-article p
    {
    font-family: Arial, "Lucida Grande", Verdana, "Lucida Sans Unicode", Helvetica, sans-serif !important;
    font-size: 16pt;
    }


    body.home div.blk-article-preview p
    {
    font-family: Arial, "Lucida Grande", Verdana, "Lucida Sans Unicode", Helvetica, sans-serif !important;
    font-size: 16pt;
    }


    p.comment-text textarea#comment
    {
    font-family: Arial, "Lucida Grande", Verdana, "Lucida Sans Unicode", Helvetica, sans-serif !important;
    font-size: 16pt;
    }

    — end snip —
    css bods: Notice that the !important is what allows it to override the author font.

    Where it goes is different for different browsers. Firefox is the hardest.

    For firefox look at mozilla but the best description for linux is here. For Windoze try this.

    For other browsers look here.

    But as felix says most people will find it disappears after you use it for a while

    • mummybot 15.1

      Great tip Lynn, I think that could be very useful for users if they are finding the new design too difficult to read.

      As I have said earlier, if you are using Windows XP please try the solution in the FAQs here:

      FAQ

      This should improve the text quality, not only for The Standard but for Firefox web browsing as a whole. Why they haven’t followed Chrome and Safari’s lead in applying anti-aliasing within the browser, I am unsure.

      • IrishBill 15.1.1

        Worked a treat.

      • Rex Widerstrom 15.1.2

        *breathes sigh of relief*

        I was all like “Is this Times New Roman I see before me?!” *smites forehead*

        Users of IE should also check that “Always use Clear Type for HTML” is checked (it doesn’t seem to be the default).

        Tools > Internet options > “Advanced” tab > scroll down to “Multimedia” > check the option and restart the browser.

        [That’s applicable to IE8 on Windows 7, presumably to earlier versions of both browser and OS but YMMV)

  16. mike 16

    Great to see you guys moving with the times! shame the parties you front are stuck in the 90’s

    • Marty G 16.1

      heart you too mike

    • Draco T Bastard 16.2

      shame the parties you front are stuck in the 90’s

      What an amusing comment coming from the political right (conservative) that looks fondly back at the dark ages.

  17. illuminatedtiger 17

    I don’t like it. Much harder to parse what’s new as blog posts occur in chronological order. Not across, down and up.

  18. felix 18

    Ok that’s fairly interesting. Just trying it out on a couple of other machines (but still the same OS and browser) and it looks beautiful!

    The font is highly legible. The spacing is better. Even the identicons are lining up properly.

    It seems my laptop has been squashing the page a bit, and doing something weird to the gravatars so they display a bit too big and force the first line of the comment to indent to the same position as the date. Why?

    I’ll plug it into the big monitor when I get home and try it.

    And I take back all my grumbles.

    • mummybot 18.1

      Your comments of spacing issues are interesting. Can you forward a screenshot to lprent (at) primary (dot) geek (dot) nz as well as what browser/operating system/screen resolution you were using.

      It could be that your laptop is set to using font sizes slightly larger or smaller.

  19. Lew 19

    The DailyKos-ification begins. May you have even greater success than that august organ has had.

    L

  20. Julie 20

    Good luck with the switch!

    Captcha: PUBLISH 🙂

    • lprent 20.1

      Cute. I swear that captcha has a mind of its own. All I did was feed it a dictionary of english words with some size restrictions

  21. SD 21

    I think it looks great. More of a newspaper layout. Theres more stories on the one page with more colour and the advertising is nessercary for revenue. Compared to this, the old page looked kind of bland!

  22. ieuan 22

    Totally agree with SD, it does look great, nice and fresh. Well done.

  23. Phil Twyford 23

    Like the new format. Very smart.

  24. In the Na'vi 24

    Get with the times, guys. I want my Standard in 3D. I’ve already got the glasses.

  25. Sam 25

    I take my hat off to the Standard team – wonderful re-design guys and gals, really, really nice!

  26. Lew 26

    Not to be a hater — I’m really supportive of the changes — but The Standard has already had advertising fail #1: you’re supporting the anti-science crackpot tract “The Altenberg 16” recently debunked by Ken Perrot. Really, is this what you want to give credence? If Scoop Ads started carrying Wishart and Coulter, would they be fair play as well?

    L

    • Eddie 26.1

      Hi Lew, thanks for your feedback, just checking:

      1) I can’t remember The Standard ever having advertising. When was that?
      2) I can’t see what you’re on about regarding anti-science crackpots… is there an ad I’m not seeing? The ones I get here are for Werewolf, Scoop mobile, the Chris Knox stroke album, ffunnell jobs and Gareth Morgan’s new book.

    • lprent 26.2

      Yeah looking at the advertising content seems to have fallen between the cracks in the rush to get the site working.

  27. Lew 27

    Hi Eddie,

    1) By “already” I mean “this morning”, not at some time in the past.
    2) http://www.kiwipolitico.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/alt.png is where I see it at present — but it comes up in other locations as well.

    HTH, HAND, etc.

    L

  28. Eddie 28

    Thanks Lew,

    1) Ah, seems I saw a sentence break where there wasn’t one.

    2) Okay, strange, haven’t seen that one. I’ll have a chat with the others and see what they think, there’s obviously going to be a tension between not wanting to be associated with any old joker who purchases space with Scoop Ads (whether anti-science crackpot or foreign-owned bank) and the reality that part of selling advertising space means not always agreeing with what your advertisers stand for. That may mean an advertising policy of some sort. New territory for The Standard, I guess.

    • Lew 28.1

      Yeah. I don’t think ads are a bad thing in and of themselves, but it’s important that you not lend support to causes antithetical to your own. Like the time when Kiwiblog was hosting Kiwibank ads. Unsure how much control you have with Scoop ads, but in general those dudes are pretty good, and I’m sure you can work something out.

      L

      • Eddie 28.1.1

        That said, when it comes to international capitalism, I’m not against selling them the rope.

        • Lew 28.1.1.1

          “Ah, sir, I see you’ve selected the FootGun 9000 — an excellent choice. May I interest you in some premium patented high-impact FootSlugs?”

          L

      • Bright Red 28.1.2

        On the other hand, if jokers want to pay a site that laughs at their cause money, that’s their loss. Look at Kiwibank advertising on Kiwiblog.

  29. Likin the newsy feel of the main page with the serif font but reckon it doesnt translate that well to the off the cuff comments.

    Makes me feel i should up my writing game to match the seriousness of the font 🙂

    FWIW i like ‘the standard’ logo so was wondering, has there even been a standard t shirt run ?

  30. Yeah, an ad vetting procedure will likely save some grief.
    Site evolution – great.
    Has MaxKeyT321 gotten jiggy with his silly little site the poor wee shite?

  31. ak 31

    Cripes, what a pleasant surprise! Congratulations, huge improvement (and Rex, yes please do post, love your style – and oz perspective on issues)
    More pics, cartoons and a regular caption comp would go down a treat too I reckon

    Well done!

  32. George D 32

    There’s a lot of white here, a bit too much for my eyes. If you were to put a light coloured background behind the margins it would improve things.

    Otherwise, the design is pretty good. I’m impressed! As others have said, it looks more newspaper and less blog, which has to be a good thing.

    • lprent 32.1

      Snap. I just sent off a e-mail to Francis suggesting that we do exactly that outside of the body of the site. Running fullscreen on my 1600×900 laptop was painful.
      I mocked it up using firebug on firefox and it stopped burning my eyes out of my head quite successfully. The shade was #EEEEEE – the same outside that the old site had.

  33. Paul Williams 33

    This looks fantastic, congrats to all on the continuing evolution of this vitally important voice!

  34. I like the new look, but it has thrown up some issues. In an old comment thread I was just looking at, it had removed the html blockquote tag from some of my comments, making it look like I said some of the monumentally retarded things I was actually only responding to.

    [lprent: It is on the fix list of things that people have noticed in the last few days, same for missing bullet points, and a few other bits and pieces. Should be done in the next few days.
    Some of the cosmetics got shunted to one side while we were getting structural bits fixed. But keep telling us – it encourages activity… ]

  35. vto 35

    lprent,

    One of the features that made the standard easy to use was the ability to see the list of commenters / posters who had made comments in the last wee long while. It made it easy to quickly see what was going on. And left one’s last comment up there for a while so the person answered could see that they had been answered. All this without having to scroll etc. I wonder whether this aspect of the new site may be detrimental – it is not possible to see who has made recent comments without scrolling down. May sound lazy but sheesh take a leaf from the successful capitalists book and make it as easy peasy as possible. Some 3c.

    Vote Them Out

    • lprent 35.1

      The number of recent comments is the same as before. Usual issue about screen real estate.

      But I’ll have a think about it after we get some of the basic flaws fixed.

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